Banker appeals sentence in torture, murder of sex workers

FAN Editor

HONG KONG — A British banker sentenced to life in prison for the gruesome slayings of two Indonesian women appeared in a Hong Kong court on Tuesday to appeal his conviction.

Lawyers for Rurik Jutting made their case in the semiautonomous Chinese city’s Court of Appeal, arguing that the trial judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury on deciding their verdict.

The nine-person jury last year convicted Cambridge University-educated Jutting of the 2014 killings of Seneng Mujiasih, 26, and Sumarti Ningsih, 23.

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Ahmad Kaliman (R) and Suratmi (L), the parents of Sumarti Ningsih, an Indonesian woman who was murdered in Hong Kong, wait for news of the trail of murder suspect, British banker Rurik Jutting, in their village in Cilacap, Central Java, Indonesia, on  November 8, 2016.

REUTERS

The case shocked residents of Hong Kong, while also highlighting wide inequality and seedy aspects usually hidden below the surface.

Jutting, 32, watched the proceedings from the dock Tuesday, wearing a blue dress shirt and often leafing through a bundle of court documents as he followed along. During a break he chatted with the three uniformed court officers sitting alongside him.

Jutting worked for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, while Seneng and Sumarti arrived in Hong Kong as foreign maids but ended up as sex workers. During the trial, jurors were shown graphic iPhone videos shot by Jutting of him torturing Sumarti and snorting cocaine.

Police said during the trial that Jutting had called the women to his apartment in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai nightlife and red light district at 3:42 a.m. one morning.

According to police, officers rushed to the man’s apartment, where they found an unresponsive woman with cuts to her neck and buttock. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

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A blood-stained knife, used as evidence in the case of British banker Rurik Jutting, is loaded into a van by clerks outside the High Court in Hong Kong on November 8, 2016, after Jutting was found guilty of murder.

Getty

While investigating, police found a suitcase on the balcony containing the body of a dead woman who had sustained neck injuries and had died a few days earlier, police said. Police also seized a knife from the 31st floor apartment in the upscale J Residence tower.

Jutting attempted at the trial to plead guilty to manslaughter, which the court rejected. His defense argued that he was under diminished responsibility.

On Tuesday, lawyer Gerard McCoy told the three-judge appeal panel that the trial judge made a “fatal error” in his directions to the jurors on how to assess Jutting’s psychiatric disorders and whether they constituted a mental abnormality.

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A migrant worker holds up a piece of paper showing photos of Sumarti Ningsih (L) and Seneng Mujiasih (R), both in their 20s, who were found dead in British banker Rurik Jutting’s Hong Kong apartment on November 1, 2014, during a protest before the start of verdict deliberations by the jury, outside the High Court in Hong Kong on November 8, 2016.

Getty

Under Hong Kong law, an “abnormality of mind” that substantially impairs mental responsibility can be used as a defense against a murder conviction.

Jutting’s lawyers argued the trial judge also erred by instructing jurors to come up with the same verdict for both counts, despite the different circumstances of the two deaths.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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